Thursday, September 30, 2010

More new c64 hi-res artwork!




Again, hi-res mode, as explained in the previous post. Hiding the grid in various places was a challenge.

Grid explanation, again:


click to enlarge

And steps:



This is a continuation from the themes of this.


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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Some new c64 hi-res artwork


Click to enlarge

Read on if you're interested in the c64 machine limitations.



This is simple commodore 64 hi-res mode. The machine has a built-in palette that is approximately this:



I say approximately because these colors were not exactly picked from the machine itself, as this is notoriously tricky to do. The c64 palettes you might find on the internet are perceptual variations of how approximately the real colors would look on some c64s. These colors, however, cannot be altered. They have to be worked with as is. All c64 images you might find on the internet are using a slight variation of this palette and trying to do tricks so it looks like they're not limited by palettization at all. I like the palette, I like artistic limitations, so I use the pure colors it has on there a lot without interlace flickering and other techniques to blur middle shades and use them as primary ones.

The main difficulty with the c64 HiRes mode then, is that the screen real estate is segmented in a series of 8x8 pixel blocks, in which there can be only two colors from the available 16 showing at the same time. Look at this for a disambiguation of the process.



(click to enlarge)

Therefore it is difficult to use a lot of colors in close proximity to shade the represented item properly. A lot of fiddling about with 8x8 cell borders just for a simple bevel highlight, for example. And dithering (the little checkerboard patterns between two colors that do soft fades) needs to belong to its cell as well, can't mix a lot at the same time without dreaded attribute clash.

The top image in the post has the border around the screen alternated between the whole palette. I like a few of them more than others, the dark blue background, the light red one and the green I ended up using for the final piece.

C64 HiRes is good at duochromatic images (black and white, for example) as it was originally intended for hi resolution text mode on the machine. It's also pretty good at 90 degree dependent images (imagine a graphical word processor with its various panels open for example) where you can play with the 8x8 squares to their advantage. However it doesn't do curves and full color very well (the other native mode of the c64, 'multicolor' sacrifices half its horisontal resolution to get 3+1 colors per cell instead, giving the appearance of the pixels being wide). I wanted to challenge the machine - and myself - to make a colorful curvy picture in HiRes.

Actually, let's not understate the significance of the object in the picture, this isn't just an exercise, it's a celebration of one of the most beautiful things in life, I count it as being as significant (personally) as any of my comics or whatever else you might find on this blog.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

24 hr comics... again?

Hell, I was looking through my old 24hr comics and it kinda made me nostalgic (especially the second one). I think I'll do it again. Well, not 24 pages in 24 hours, but x pages in 24 hours, as polished and well-made as I can get them to be.

The only problem is company! Last time I did it I was accompanied by my friend Thanos and also Panagiotis Pantazis and we made quite a trio. The good memories come from that, primarily. I doubt the same lineup will materialize as Panagiotis is gracing the Greek military forces at this time, I think. Thanos is however, quasi-free but he's AFK right now and I can't tie this down. And there's no way I'm going to do comics for 24 hours in solo mode.

So I request from you, kind readers, to leave a comment here to emotionally blackmail Thanos to come with me and endure prolonged creation of comics. I shall post both my results and his on this here blog if you can get him to come. Concoct convincing arguments and high rhetoric if you must! I'll work the other, much more personal angle at the same time and he shall crack under the pressure. We must. Get. Him. Drawing.

Nothing after the jump.



I lied.




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Friday, September 24, 2010

This week on Plus

A series of illustrations on the topic of privately owned and operated toll booths on Greek national roads and how several citizens that have to pass through them on their way to work or home, refuse to pay the fare. An absurd theater between toll operators and them occurs daily.








"1. Be patient with the toll operator no matter how they might try to detain you 2. Do not sign anything they might pressure you to 3. the bar, if needed be, can be bypassed in two simple moves: pushing it forward makes it automatically rise and if not, it can be manually pushed up 4. Keep on truckin' !"

The police cars perpetually parked adjascent to the toll booth area are for show. They will not interfere, apparently, because as the tolls are privately operated, this is a dispute between private parties. The toll operator photographs the number plates of the cars and then forwards them through a process which has the offender served with a very legally binding sounding reprimand. If the citizen does pay it, then the company apparently will not persue it further because they're afraid they'd lose the legal battle that would ensue. So basically it's highway robbery disguised under a thin veneer of legitimacy. Greece is a funny country. More information in the new issue of Plus magazine.



This one wasn't used, so another A/B exclusive, I guess! It reads, in order "welcome to the desert of the real' 'enjoy your triple-toll' 'don't forget your receipt!". Triple-toll is a Greek pun that doesn't translate, alas!


-Helm

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Plus mag

The newly formed free press magazine 'Plus' will be featuring my illustrations weekly, starting today. Hopefully in the future there might also be some comics involved. Greek urbanites can pick it up at the usual places where free press magazines are to be found. My contributions this week include:


"...I will never be beyond good and evil I will never be beyond good and evil I will never be beyond good and evil I will never be beyond good and evil I will never be beyond good and evil I will never be beyond good and evil I will never be beyond good and evil I will never be beyond good and evil..."

Accompanying an article by Georgia Papastamou on the subject of the omissions, provocations and outright factual errors found in Greek high-school textbooks. My free-form translation of a relevant part of the article:

On the chapter [of the book on Religious Studies, fifth year of high-school] on "Causes and consequences of atheism" there is the following quote "Nihilistic atheism by the nihilist philosopher Frederich Nietzsche, whom, inspired by Feuerbach and the philosopher of pessimism Schopenhauer [...] his last decade of life suffered from constant bouts of mental delusion [...] where in the scope of his philosophy of the √úbermensch he loathes all the virtues of man because he thought of them as symbols of weakness [...] the point of his theory, that is, the √úbermensch concept, would be monstrous if it ever were to be applied to our society. It is well known that it stood as the theoretical blueprint of Hitler's national-socialism."


That is, you see, the intro (and outro, as it were) to the works of one of the greatest minds to walk on earthly soil. As decreed important to be taught to impressionable minds by a body of state sanctioned professional educators.

More work follows.


On the subject of ways and methods to survive in a Greece that is downwards trajectory through the stages of bankruptcy, several street performers and vendors are profiled. Here is Alex, a Romanian expatriate who works as a mime in downtown Athens.



This, and the rest of the profile pieces are photo-trace work, to which I am not used to and don't generally condone but the issue was one of realism. Were I to abstract the figures or the environment, they might look more like archetypes of street performers and vendors, not specific individuals. And the focus is on the exact specific individuals. The color version of the above image was not used, so here's an A/B exclusive, if you will.

More within the pages of Plus magazine, and a good luck to us all.

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So I have another blog now.

I'm pretty certain I'm biting off more than I can chew here, but I am my inspiration's slave in the end. Here if you want to read what I have to say about Heavy Metal, from now on.



I used one of the default blogger styles because I really don't have the time to learn how to extensively customize a second blog (this one was actually customized by friend Skurwy) and besides, it's a pleasing preset. If any dressing up is to occur, it will have to wait a long time.

I don't know how often I will be posting new 'reviews' there, it may be as often as twice a month and as late as... whenever. I anticipate covering the one hundred records will take a couple of years in the least, and that's fine.

There will be no more music posts on A/B, naturally.

More news on work and posts containing actual art (remember that?) very soon.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

excuse the lack of posts

I'm just trying to get a job going. It looks hopeful. It'll be in my field, so no flipping burgers for me (yet). Wish me luck.

Also if you're interested in Heavy Metal, read on.



Still here? Alright.

I used to comment on Invisible Oranges a lot, however its main writer and editor, Cosmo Lee, recently sent me an e-mail telling me to stop, so I did. I'm going to start something else instead, I don't know if it'll be a second blog or a small web site where I'll be 'reviewing' the 100 Heavy Metal records that I consider my personal favourites, with a specific intent of capturing the quintessence of what I consider Heavy Metal in the process (so they won't be 'normal' reviews by any stretch).

Given that I'm trying to get a honest living going, I do not know when I'll start this properly. I did write a 'FAQ' of sorts to help me gather my thoughts and intentions and if you're interested in Heavy Metal and want to discuss this project with me, you could read it here. I don't know how fast this'll go but it's worth discussing it now rather than later.

On other news, my cat loves me.

My girlfriend is adopting these strays as well:



The one looking at us is a boy and he's very playful but flighty. The one behind him is his sister, who has stunning Cleopatra-like looks.

So, stuff is happening! Black thing! Heavy Metal! Kitten adoptions!

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